The Supreme Court settles the debate on delivery drivers: declares 532 Deliveroo 'riders' employees
A delivery man at the Deliveroo office in Bordeaux, France, in 2017.GEORGES GOBET / Getty

The Supreme Court considers the legal debate on the use of self-employed workers on digital platforms to be settled. The High Court already declared a Glovo dealer to be false self-employed in September last year. Based on that ruling, it has now dismissed Deliveroo’s appeal in the macro-trial of 532 delivery men in Madrid, pending since 2019. In the car, signed last week and to which EL PAÍS has had access, the magistrates send a clear message to the companies: “The judgment of this Fourth Chamber deals with a matter of maximum relevance and current relevance, when addressing the question of whether work linked to digital platforms should be considered as an employment relationship, and it pronounces in favor of the employment nature of the relationship of the dealer with the digital platform ”.

To argue their position, the magistrates reiterate on several occasions and throughout 19 pages that the ruling against Glovo has already established jurisprudence and they recall that contradicting a judgment of the Supreme Court is a reason to reject an appeal. “The impugnatory claim [de Deliveroo] It is contrary to the doctrine of this Chamber established in the recent sentence of September 25, 2020 ″, the text reads. That ruling against Glovo was handed down unanimously by all the institution’s judges, after being elevated to the plenary session of the High Court.

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Jesús Cruz, professor of Labor Law at the University of Seville, believes that after this order “the bulk of the debate in Spain about delivery men is closed” and emphasizes that the most important thing is that “it affects all the companies that distribute merchandise using algorithms ”. In the same vein, Adrián Todolí, doctor in Labor Law from the University of Valencia, thinks: “The Supreme Court can do little more. Here it only remains to comply ”.

Until now, the large delivery companies that had been denounced by the Labor Inspectorate for using false self-employed workers (Amazon, Uber and Deliveroo, in addition to Glovo) publicly argued that Glovo’s sentence did not concern them because it referred to a specific cyclist and from another company, and they repeated that there had not yet been a firm position from the Supreme on the workforce of the delivery men, so they could continue to use freelancers to dispatch orders. Even Glovo assured that the opinion judged a case from 2017, so it could not be extrapolated to the present day.

However, this new car explicitly states that all riders they meet the conditions to be wage earners. The Supreme Court echoes the “elaborate resolution” of the Superior Court of Justice of Madrid (TSJM) in the Deliveroo macro-trial, in which the magistrates collect that the self-employed cyclists and motorists of the company with the blue backpack worked under “habitual ”And“ dependency ”, since they are located by GPS and are penalized if they reject orders.

Likewise, the delivery people are linked to Deliveroo in the “governing, organizational and management area of ​​the company, since the means set by the delivery person (motorcycle or bicycle, and mobile phone) are very insignificant, compared to the important structural organization necessary for the activity ”, according to the order signed last week.

With this argument, the TSJM agreed with the distributors and Social Security in January 2020, in a trial held after an appeal filed by Deliveroo after losing a previous process in a Madrid court in July 2019. After the ruling of the TSJM, the technology company appealed again to the Supreme Court for cassation (opposing a ruling by the Supreme Court of Cantabria), but the Supreme Court has now rejected the argument, condemning Deliveroo to bear the costs of the trial. In addition, the distribution firm must take charge of the unpaid fees to the 532 distributors that Social Security claimed.

From the UGT, one of the unions participating in the macro-trial, they celebrate the inadmissibility of the appeal, which “supposes a confirmation of the Supreme Court’s criteria regardless of whether it is one company or another,” in the words of Bernardo García, a lawyer for the confederation. Rubén Ranz, in charge of the UGT digital platforms division, assures that the end of the process opens the door to other trials against Deliveroo, paralyzed while awaiting the Supreme Court’s ruling because it is a collective conflict, and in which the judges they should take the position of the High Court if they are dealing with similar cases.

The Supreme Court judges also take advantage of the order to reflect on the social and legal implications of digital platforms: “In recent times we have been witnessing some changes in the way of working as a result of the introduction of new technologies (…) . This new way of providing services, although still marginal, marks a trend line to which attention should be paid, since there is no doubt that it is increasingly widespread, raising problems of legal protection, among others ”.

The end of the macro-trial coincides with the vote this Thursday in Congress of the so-called law of riders, which was already approved by the Council of Ministers at the beginning of the month, and the position of the Supreme Court will support the Government’s arguments in the parliamentary debate. “This rule protects the most vulnerable because it affects the youth of our country, and hence the great importance of what we are doing,” declared the Minister of Labor after the signing of the royal decree law.

“This paves the way for a peaceful application of the government decree,” acknowledges the jurist Jesús Cruz, who proposes to put this debate aside to start the following: “How can these companies guarantee labor standards by using the legislation?”

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